How to Mix Metals
Fashion and interior design styles often evolve on parallel paths. Whereas in the past no self-respecting fashionista would wear gold and silver jewelry at the same time, now skillfully mixing metallics is a fast way to look effortlessly modern and chic. Taking a cue from fashion, there’s no reason why satin nickel, brushed steel, oil-rubbed bronze, black iron, hammered silver, gold leaf, silver leaf, copper, and other metallic finishes can’t get along famously in the same room. Here are some guidelines for mixing metals with abandon and style.
Use Your Color Scheme as a Guide
A neutral room needs metallics and texture for warmth. If you’re designing a room in shades of gray, touches of gold or brass will keep it from feeling cold. For example, a gilded mirror or picture frame comes to life against a gray wall, be it pale or charcoal in tone. Pairing cream-colored walls with gold accents is also a winning look. A crisp white space will look sophisticated with silver or chrome accessories, while a room in tones of chocolate brown can be lightened up with bronze tones.
Cool shades of blue look slick with silver accents, but adding warm copper or gold accessories will energize the space, and black iron touches will help it feel grounded. If your kitchen walls are painted bright orange, chrome accents will cool it down. Yellow walls with gold accents will create an unapologetically sunny atmosphere.
Choose a Dominant Metal
One way to mix metals successfully is to choose a dominant metal and use a contrasting metal as an accent. If most of the hardware finishes in a kitchen are oil-brushed bronze, that row of copper pots will add a warm gleam. In a kitchen full of stainless steel appliances and restaurant-style countertops, a vintage chandelier in bronze or gold will add warmth and unexpected charm. If your tastes run toward all that is gilded and gold, a hammered-silver table or a chrome pendant light will add balance.
There is nothing wrong with sticking to one metal tone, but to avoid a monotonous effect, focus on the texture of the finishes. If it’s gold you like, try mixing matte and shiny finishes; if it’s silver, pair silver plate with hammered silver and pewter for contrast. Mixing old and new finishes will also help keep your room’s metallic profile interesting.
Don’t Let One Metal Tone Dominate
(All photos: Lonny)Some people focus on matching the hardware on all the doors in their house or coordinating the finishes in a bathroom or a kitchen. While it’s easier to abide by such self-imposed rules, it often results in a less-interesting environment. You’ll get the most impact if you mix cool metals such as silver and chrome with warm metals such as gold or brass. If you really want an effortlessly sophisticated, lived-in look, try experimenting with as many metal tones as you like, making sure not to let any one tone dominate. The easiest way to make this work is to scatter various metal tones around the room and your house. It will create a sense of history and timelessness instead of looking premeditated and built yesterday.